Learning to tell a narrative in Murrinhpatha

Wadeye school

This project investigates the stories told by children who speak the traditional Australian language Murrinhpatha as their first language. Murrinhpatha is a polysynthetic language, spoken in the remote Aboriginal community of Wadeye, NT. While a previous RUIL project, Language Acquisition in Murrinhpatha (LAMP) explored language development in young children, this project instead focuses on school aged children (aged 7, 9, and 11), and looks at how they use Murrinhpatha when telling stories.

To date, around 30 children have been recorded at each of these three ages (7, 9, 11). Recordings were made at the local school in town, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, using two wordless picture books as elicitation materials. By analysing each child’s tellings of these two stories, we aim to describe the narrative strategies used by children at each age..

A primary aim of this project is to highlight the linguistic skills that these children demonstrate when they engage in a task in their native language.

This research is funded by the Australian Research Council.

Chief Investigators: Professor Jill Wigglesworth, Dr Barb Kelly and Dr Lucy Davidson.